Peekskill, New York
, named for
Dutch businessman Jan Peeck, has a very interesting history, and to learn more
about the area, we visited The Peekskill Museum
and took a tour
with Author and Historian John J. Curran, Museum Vice President
and learned about the history of Peekskill and its historical prominence in the
Revolutionary War. The Museum is a treasure trove of information and objects
that will inspire historians as well as pique the interest of visitors of all
Peekskill Museum opened in 1946, is in the former home of Dwight Stiles Herrick
(1845-1908) and his family. Built in the Queen Anne Shingle Style in the1870s,
the house was designed by William Rutherford Mead, who went to Amherst with the
owner. Interesting to note about William Rutherford Mead is that he later joined
Charles McKim and Stanford White, in the legendary architectural firm of McKim,
Mead and White, who designed many New York City landmarks including Penn
Station, Madison Square Garden, Metropolitan Club, The Morgan Library, the
University Club of New York, and many others.
house is interesting architecturally with its double doors in the entryway to
keep the cold air out, two sets of stairs at the front and the back of the house,
green-tinted glass, bay windows throughout, and intricate parquet floors with a
different pattern in each of the rooms, it is the contents and artifacts that
will intrigue historians, as well as delight visitors of all ages.
Lorman "Augie" Augustowski with his uniform from 1957
A few of
the many Museum highlights include information about and objects from the
Revolutionary War. Peekskill was also home to the Peekskill Military Academy
founded in 1832 and closed in 1968. We had the pleasure of speaking with Lorman
"Augie" Augustowski, who serves on the Museum's Board of Trustees, who attended
the Academy, and his uniform from 1957 is on display at the Museum. He
explained that the uniforms were custom made and cost over $600. He also told
us that the owner of the house, Dwight Herrick, was an instructor at the
Academy in 1867. Interesting to note is that Frank Baum (1856-1919), author of
the "Wizard of Oz" also attended the Academy for 2 years in the 1860s.
a large stove manufacturing industry, and the stoves on display are works of
art including the Taylor & Flagler stove circa 1845 in the parlor of the home
with its intricate details, The Union Stove Works called "New Beauty," a large-scale
stove from 1881, and the H.H. Finch & Sons stove called "The Fairy."
John J. Curran, Author and Historian
Showing us coal used to fire the cast iron stoves during tour
impressive statistics: Fleishmann's Yeast created a state-of-the-art research
laboratory in Peekskill in 1900 and was the largest yeast manufacturer in the
world. Peekskill also was the birthplace of former Governor of New York George
Pataki and actors Stanley Tucci and Paul Reubens aka "Pee Wee Herman."
will love seeing the period clothing and shoes on display, the beautiful
dollhouse, dolls, toys, soap box derby racer, a giant ball of string, a "high
wheeler bicycle," patented in the United States in 1884, that had a front wheel
measuring 54 inches high and a back wheel measuring 26 inches (which was later
enlarged to 28 inches in the 1890s), and so much more.
If you love
music, you will be interested in hearing the sound from the hand cranked Edison
phonograph and also the Victrola phonograph. Stereo equipment has certainly
come a long way from when the first phonographs were invented.
interesting is the Museum's collection of walking sticks and canes. Walking
sticks had their vogue in the Victorian era where it was the de-rigueur fashion
statement for men as well as women, however oftentimes they contained
compartments to conceal a wide a variety of items.
became acquainted with walking sticks during a trip to New Orleans many years
ago and met with Bill Rau, owner of M.S. Rau Antiques on Royal Street.
He showed a diverse collection and explained about their various compartments.
A physician's walking stick could hold medical instruments, a billiards
player's walking stick could hold a cue, and for someone who liked to fish, the
walking stick could hold a fishing rod.
walking sticks could also have a more nefarious context and conceal weapons, or
in the case of the walking stick at The Peekskill Museum, it could have a small
secret compartment to hold a rolled-up note and was perhaps used as a "spy
tool." (For more information on walking sticks and canes, you might like to
read our feature on "A Visual History of Walking Sticks and Canes" by
John J. Curran points out hidden compartment
much to experience at The Peekskill Museum so be sure to allow enough time
during your visit to Peekskill to take an insightful and interesting step back
Revolutionary War Artifacts
The Peekskill Museum is open on Saturdays from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm. Admission: $5, Free
for members. Appointments are available by calling the Museum.
Revolutionary War Artifacts
For more information on The Peekskill Museum, please visit the
The Peekskill Museum
124 Union Avenue
Peekskill, New York 10566
Read more about Peekskill and
the area in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Gastronomy, Liquor Cabinet, Adventures, and Arts and Antiques sections.
information on the Hudson Valley, please visit the website: www.HudsonValley.org and www.VisitWestchesterNY.com
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